Free food distribution portrays Kathmandu as a ‘city of beggars’, says KMC Mayor Shakya

KMC Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya in 2017.

Kathmandu Metropolitan City Mayor Bidhya Sundar Shakya has urged those providing free food in open spaces such as Khulamanch to stop distributing free foods stating that the metropolis is sensitive towards the health of Kathmanduites.

100s Group, a group of youth volunteers gathered through Facebook, has been providing one meal a day for free to people who can’t afford to buy food due to the pandemic.

The group has been serving around 700 people each day ever since the government suddenly imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 24.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Shakya said that he was receiving complaints from people that the food distribution in Khulamanch is being conducted in an unsafe manner and in defiance of the health safety standards.

“I urge everyone to immediately organize and find alternatives to the unhealthy and unsafe food distribution that is taking place in public places,” he said.

The mayor organised a press conference after receiving widespread criticism from the public for mobilising police to stop the ongoing distribution of free food stating that distribution of free food by random people or organizations had put the local government in a bad light.

During the press conference, the mayor also promised that he would provide necessary assistance to manage the food distribution.

However, the mayor’s promise could be duplicitous as he has yet to materialize his earlier pledge of building a 5,000-bed integrated isolation center in the city within two weeks of his announcement on August 10.

Mayor Shakya also said that he believed that Kathmandu should be known as a city of hardworking people.

“We don’t want anyone to try to make the world think that Kathmandu is a city of beggars by distributing free food in public places and streets,” said Shakya.

Adding to his list of promises, he even promised that employment will be provided to those who are unemployed due to COVID-19 based on their ability and skill.

He said that the the poor and needy will be provided with two meals a day if they co-ordinate with their respective wards.

“Young people who can work should be inspired to respect labor, don’t make them lazy,” said Shakya.